Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another late update

Well, it is October and I am just now posting pictures from July! What can I say? Life is busy! We took Jake to Big Cedar Lodge for his first 4th of July and as an "official" American citizen. It was really special for all of us. We had such a great time. It has been a wonderful 10 months with him watching him experience so many "firsts". He is growing up so fast. His language is unbelievable and he doesn't remember any Vietnamese. He is very smart and well adjusted. He is great buddies with all of the other children . He is a very active boy....he doesn't walk anywhere! He still loves to play outside and he and Luke have a great time with their new dog Ollie. They have taught him to climb up the ladder to their fort and slide down the slide.....first Luke, then Jake and then Ollie. Over and over again. It is hilarious! Girls are super busy with school, soccer and basketball. They are a great help with the boys. It seems like we are always on the go with all of their activities. Nadia is playing soccer in Greenwood and Mia plays soccer in Fort Smith. Nadia has started basketball for the UCA team and Mia is now picking up tumbling again. They love to have their friends over for sleepovers....we always have a house full of kids. Nadia was recently selected to be in the football homecoming court as the princess. She looked so pretty that night.....just like a princess! I will try to post pictures sooner this time. Mia loves school and all her friends....our social butterfly. She is always so happy and has a smile on her face. Would love to hear from you. Hope everyone is having a great fall!
Take care, Natalie

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I can't believe summer is here. We have been so busy since school ended. We are still busy with soccer, swim lessons and Vacation Bible School. We took Jake to Florida for his 2nd birthday! We all had so much fun. Ma and Pa came down and uncle Jeff flew in from Nevada. Jake loved playing in the sand and running to the edge of the water. We set up a tent and each afternoon he would say "night night time" and would run to the tent to lay down and take a nap! He is amazing! He would sleep for two hours in the tent!

Jake has adjusted beautifully. He no longer bites, lays on the floor in fits or hits. He is very affectionate and has learned his new boundaries and is a very happy boy. He is VERY strong willed but we think this can be a good trait and we are just working on focusing it in the right direction. His language is unbelievable. People that meet him for the first time think we have had him since birth b/c his language is much more advanced than the average two year old. They can't believe we have only had him for 6 months. He can repeat anything we say, understands everything we say and is putting 2-4 words together at a time. Every morning he asks , "momma, where dada", "momma, where Nadia", "momma, where Mia", "momma, where Lu?"...we go through this every morning. I tell him daddy is at work and Nadia, Mia and Luke are at school. Now I tell him the kids are sleeping (now that school is out!) and he says, "ssshhhhhh". It is so funny because he has learned to tattle quickly. If Luke takes a toy from him or he wants something one of the kids has he runs to me and loudly says, "MOMMA...LLUUUU!" to tell me "mommy, Luke! (has my toy, took my toy or I want that toy!). I told the kids he would quickly learn to tattle on them if they misbehave! They are all shocked at how quickly he learned to tell on them.

Jake loves to ride bikes, drive the battery ran jeeps (although he hasn't mastered steering it yet!), bubbles, swimming, going to the pond to feed the fish, swinging, coloring, reading, watching Diego and name it! He loves everything and is doing everything. He cried every day we dropped of Luke at preschool and would say, "momma, stay stay, school school". I told him he would get to do all that soon enough. He just wants to keep up with his sisters and brother.

Nadia and Mia have been busy with soccer all spring and now doing 3v3 tournaments this summer. Rick coached Mia's team and they placed 1st this season. Nadia's team placed 2nd in the U-10 division. The boys already kick the ball around with each other. I think we are going to have four soccer players! After so many practices and games they would much rather be with our beloved babysitter Heather. They love to play with her and are so sad that she is moving away this summer. Jake asks about her all the time. He says, "where Hethy?". She was with us from the time we brought Jake home and he thinks she is just suppose to be part of our family. We don't know what we will do without her! The boys will be devastated when she leaves.

Luke finished up gymnastics and took a break this summer. He is really trying to grow up. Although he and Jake argue and battle it out over their toys, they have formed a deep love for each other. Luke tries to help out and is so proud when we brag on him for sharing. The kids all love just spending time together. Rick set up a two room tent in our basement and the kids have been sleeping down there all summer. They have it all set up with their stuffed animals and blankets and plan on sleeping down there until August!!! Guess I won't have to be making any beds. The girls have had some sleepovers and the kids go crazy when they see the tent down there. We dim the lights very low and it looks like stars on the ceiling. They think they are comfort with air conditioning! (smart kids!)

Well, I will post some current pictures. Everyone is doing great. We continue to pray for the Vietnam program to reopen. Our hearts were broken when we received the letter saying they would be closing. We pray for all the children who patiently wait for their forever families to come get them. Please pray that our two governments can come together in agreement for the benefit of these children of God. Happy Summer. Natalie

Monday, April 14, 2008

Some New Photos

Again, sorry it has been so long I have updated the blog. Life is so busy! Jake is doing great. He is so smart and happy and blends in with the family as if he has always been with us. He has a great personality and loves to be silly. Rick jokes he has two volumes...."loud and louder"! He is going to make sure we hear what he has to say! It is soooo funny when he says, (loudly) "MAMA MAMA"...and then he says very seriously a long jumbled sentence as if he truly knows what he is telling me. I say, "really?" and then he says, "yea".

He is learning so much English. He is even trying to sing the alphabet along with Luke. He loves music and is singing the Barney song and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". He loves to watch Diego and Barney with Luke. He loves to play outside, go to his sister's soccer games, play on the swing set, help mow and cries when he can't stay at preschool with Luke. We were showing off his counting talents to our friends who own a Chinese restaurant (they are Vietnamese and speak it fluently) and they told us that some of the numbers he was saying was actually in Vietnamese! He mixes them back and forth...such as "one, two, ba (three)" etc.

We recently adopted Jake in the U.S. He did great with our attorney and in the court room...we were so proud! I think he knew something special was going on. He and Luke have become fast buddies. The play together all day and chase each other up and down the halls. We were laying in Luke's bed the other morning and he said, "I like having a brother".....melted my heart.

We plan on taking him to the beach in Florida for his 2nd birthday in June. Uncle Jeff will be flying there to meet us. We are so excited for him to experience the beach for the first time in his life....especially since it is all of our favorite place. We have a big trip planned to Big Cedar Lodge for the 4th of July too. It is another one of our favorite things to do with the wonderful fireworks show and beautiful scenery. It will be extremely special to us this year to have Jake home and experiencing the American celebration for the first time with us.

We are so blessed to have Jake in our family. He brings so much to our lives. God is so good.

Jake in our attorney's office.
Mommy and Jake outside the courtroom.
Daddy, mommy and Jake in the courtroom.
Mia, Nadia, Luke and Jake on Easter morning.
Kids getting ready to surprise daddy with his birthday cake.
Daddy and Jake
This stuff is good mama. He said, "MORE MORE MORE".
Luke and Jake helping mommy mow.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Okay, so it has been a while!

Wow, it has been a long time since I last posted. Sorry to the loyal followers of our blog. Life is busy and it never seems I have time to sit and post anymore. Rick is on call tonight and I got all the kids in bed early, lunches made and laundry caught up so I thought I would make myself sit and download some photos!

Jake is doing great! He is so comfortable with his new life and routine that it is just natural for him to go with the flow. I don't think he would know anything different at this point. He is learning so many new words and understands everything we say. He and Luke have become very close buddies and love to pester their sisters. is double trouble for the girls these days. Luke can do almost anything and put Jake into absolute giggles (he has the BEST laugh!). He thinks Luke is hilarious. Luke can just turn his head a funny way and make a silly noise and Jake goes to his knees cracking up and then tries to mock him. The first month I would constantly tell him how much I loved him and he would tell me if I asked him. Now he comes up to me on his own and kisses me, hugs my leg or tells me he loves momma. It melts my heart!!! It means so much coming from him on his own. Can you believe how well he is doing in barely over two months? Amazing!

He loved going to Nadia's basketball games, going to church and now soccer. So long as there are snacks around...he is happy wherever he is! We rarely have any fits or anger issues anymore....anything he does is just typical 20 month old stuff. He knows we love him, what is acceptable behavior and the yes's and no's at home! We worked hard every day to make the boundaries clear to him so that he would know his limitations and it has been well worth the effort. It may seem too "strict" for him being new but he is so smart and he wanted and needed to know. Now that it is all clear to him he is so much happier.

I know I sound like a "bragging mother" but he is sooooo smart. Everything comes to him so naturally. His determination to learn and understand things amazes Rick and I. I have never seen a child his age want to learn things so bad. He communicates beautifully....if he can't say it he is able to take us to a location and sign or show us exactly what he wants. He loves books and wants to go over them every night and works hard to say the words in the picture books. It seems like he understands most everything we tell him and if he doesn't the first time you can rest assured knowing he will figure it out quickly. His strong will comes in handy during this time...but can be interesting at other times! I am telling you .... this kid is smart! AND...he is soooo happy and affectionate. Okay...enough of my typing. I have lots of pictures to share. Hope you enjoy them. Have a wonderful week! Natalie

Rick and Natalie V-day 2008
Nadia performing at half-time UCA Homecoming Basketball 2008
Nadia and Friends
Mia with her friends before half-time performance
Mia and Jake riding the gator
Luke, Jake and Mia playing outside in Feb
Rick, Luke and Jake working at the pond in Feb
Boys working at the pond
Jake at the Dr
Jake at Dr appt
Jake with daddy at the dr

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Can't imagine life without Jake!

Well, there isn't a lot to update! Jake is doing great and just goes with the flow! He seems very comfortable with our family and very happy. I wonder sometimes if he even remembers his former life even in this short amount of time. I am sure there are things he thinks about and that probably go on in his little mind but from all appearances he seems to be so content and happy with his new life.

He is getting closer and closer with each of the kids and loves to play and interact with them. He can't wait for them to all get home from school. He has so much fun at all the basketball practices and games and is doing great at church. He even stayed in the church nursery today! You should see him put his hands together and close his eyes to pray! melts my heart. He doesn't really say anything ...just makes sounds...but he says them in this barely audible is so precious. We have kept him on a very good routine so that he knows what to expect each day and I think this has really helped him adjust. He LOVES his bath and will even lay on his back now (remember when he would only squat?) and tries to swim! He loves to brush his teeth...even tries on his own now. Then he goes to each of the kids rooms and gets in bed with them and says "nightnight" and kisses them and when he leaves he says, "ssshhhhh" in a whisper.

We rarely have any behavior problems ...nothing other than typical 19 month old stuff...and that isn't very often any more. He is sooooo smart! He knows when he is doing something he shouldn't be doing and after he does it he looks at it and says, "no no no" and runs to give me a hug (with that big cheesy grin) as to say..."oh mommy, you don't have to correct me!"

I took him up to the girl's school Friday b/c Nadia had forgotten one of her novels. Everyone was so excited to see him up there. He is so comfortable and confident in new is truly amazing. He was telling her class "HI" and blowing them kisses. We ran into Mia in the hall and she asked if I could bring him in her class for "Show and Tell". Her teacher and I got the biggest kick out of it. She stood in front of the class and told them all about him and Vietnam. He was quite the little flirt in front of everyone which made it even funnier. He may have been the first brother to have been THE show and tell at school.

We took our first family picture last week and it was quite an adventure. It is amazingly difficult to get 6 people all looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. I think it took us 2 hours to try to get the "perfect" picture and just as we almost got it....RICK raised his hand in the picture to keep Jake from raising his hand. Our photographer just about died! He told Rick he would ground him if he could! Needless to say, it was less than perfect and by the time we got a decent picture, we were all sweating and our hair was a mess! It will work for Jake's has to!!! I am not doing that again for a while! It was way too stressful!

As you can see, life is busy and great. We can't remember life without Jake. In just a few weeks, it is like he has been with us forever. He brings so much joy to our lives. If you would have told me we would be at this point in just a few weeks I would never have believed it. God is so good! Have a great week. Natalie

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Welcome Home Jake Tea Party Pictures

Jake meeting my best friend Patty for the first time! So many neat toys and clothes!
Good friends!
Jake received a doll that was called "Dress Me Jake"! Too Cute!
Mom, Jake and I, and the hostesses
The beautiful table setting

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jake has been home 1 month today!

Wow! I can't believe that Jake flew home one month ago today. Time has flown! It is amazing to see how far he has come in such a short amount of time. He is doing great! I really can't imagine our family without him. He is so happy and blends in as if he was with us from day 1. He is eating great, still on great sleep schedules, and rarely bites or hits anymore. He will occasionally think about it but has gained the self control to choose another outlet that is much more acceptable.

He has also learned more words and some signing which has been his greatest help to control any of his frustrations...he can now tell someone "no!" if he doesn't want you to take his toy or if he isn't done with his plate, etc. I know most people don't like to hear "NO" from their children...but it has been a great help in communicating for us. He has also learned mama, dada, nana (Nadia), mimi (Mia), Lu (Luke), up, down, done, more, eat, baba, dipe (diaper), kittykitty, nightnight, bye bye, hi, Lu Ooh (love you)etc. He can now point to his eyes, nose, ears, mouth and hair when we ask him to. He understands many other things we tell him. He has an amazing vocabulary for a 19 month old who has heard English for a total of 4 weeks. He is absolutely so cuddly, silly, happy and full of life. He has the most beautiful smile too! (and he loves to brush his pretty teeth now!) He loves to run off with the other three children and play with them. They are all doing so good and thrilled to have him as their brother.

Last Friday, some dear friends threw a "Welcome Home Jake" tea party. It was so fun. We had many friends there and Jake received so many new toys and beautiful clothes. It was wonderful to have so many share in our joy. He is loved by so many already. I will try to post some pictures of the tea soon.

Thank you so much for all of you who encouraged us and prayed for us on this long journey. We have so much to be thankful for and learned so much along the way. Very importantly, we know that God has His perfect timing in everything. There were many times we became impatient and frustrated waiting on our sweet Jake. We know he was perfectly chosen for our family and God's timing placed him perfectly in our home. We thank Him everyday for allowing us the honor to raise Jake. Every day I look at him and I am in awe that God would allow us to have this awesome gift. It is our hope that everything we do in raising our children will glorify God. Have a wonderful week. Natalie

" 'I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.' " 1 Samuel 1:27